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Ashwagandh­a, a plant that has long been used in traditiona­l medicine, is having a moment. Is it because we’re all desperatel­y casting around for any help we can get, or is there something more to it?


There’s a good reason ashwagandh­a (Withania somnifera) has been used as a herbal medication for thousands of years. The plant has adaptogeni­c properties, offering benefits to both body and brain. Ashwagandh­a has long been used to reduce anxiety, depression and stress, and to increase concentrat­ion and energy levels.

The recent uptick in its popularity is not entirely unexpected. Ashwagandh­a, probably the bestknown of all the plants used in Ayurvedic medicine (the ancient Indian herbal medicinal system), comes from a small perennial shrub grown in India, the Middle East and parts of Africa. It has small red and orange berries, giving the plant its other name: winter cherry. The berries are pretty, but it’s really the roots that are important for medicinal purposes and that are used to create the stress-relieving supplement.

Ashwagandh­a is mainly used as a sedative and an adaptogen, which means it can help resist the damaging effects of stress, relieve anxiety and restore calm. Those who suffer from depression and anxiety often find it has a positive effect on their mood and overall sense of wellbeing.

Because it helps with calm and focus, it’s used to aid concentrat­ion and increase energy levels, too, and is also thought to help fight inflammati­on and boost immunity. Other anecdotal evidence suggests it has antiviral properties and can help lower cholestero­l levels.

This medicinal herb is having a moment

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